10 Things I’ve Learned About Farming

March 6, 2012 | Filed Under Tips 

I have been building a small farm for the last 2-3 years. Right now I have two beef cows with another on the way. I also have four goats with approximately 6-9 babies on the way. And I have 4 chickens (down from 7) and 5 more on the way.

Here are 10 random things I’ve learned about farming that I didn’t know before starting (note: to learn, sometimes you’ve gotta just start)

1. Chickens prefer to sleep in trees to coops (to bad i didn’t figure this out till i’d built a $300 chicken coop)

2. Chickens need fence higher than 48 inches high to keep them in (unless they are really fat) but…

3. If you truly want to free range your chickens, the best solution may be to just let them roam free but…

4. If you let them roam free, they’ll lay their eggs in secret places and send you on a daily treasure hunt and sadly…

5. Sometimes they’ll get picked off by predators. But you can just plan for this and have extra chickens. Unless you’re a member of PETA and hate the fact that nature is carnivorous.

6. Mama cows are pretty damn fierce 3 days after having a baby. They will charge you. And you better be fast as hell or stay away.

7. Turns out cows can get aggressive when they’re hungry too. In the winter, it’s best to make sure they are eating on hay before entering the pasture.

8. Cows are easier to raise than dogs. So are goats. Goats are easiest of all.

9. The strength of your electrical fence is partly dependent on the amount of electrons the system can pull from the earth and the more damp the earth is, the more electrons you can pull into the system… when there is a drought, it’s a good idea to “water” your grounding rods. You can also tie multiple grounding rods together in serial (crows feet) to pull more electrons from the ground.

10. Most animals are self-maintaining. Your role as a farmer is to play the role of nature (optimize their environment to mimic nature: improve the pasture, automate/optimize the water and food sources)

Bonus: Facts about goats: it’s a myth that they’ll eat anything. They are actually a little picky in their own way. And they’ll definitely only eat organic material. There’s also the common concern that goats escape as often as the sun rises. While this is true if your fencing system has gaps or if they can climb up something and then over the fence, the cool thing is that goats are such awesome animals that they’ll just hang out until they see you and then follow you right back into the pasture. At least my goats do. They’re AWESOME.

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